Nebraska Keystone XL decision could have Wisconsin impacts

The Keystone Steele City pumping station into which the planned Keystone XL pipeline is to connect to in Steele City Neb. is seen in this Nov. 2015

The voice of opposition was magnified last week when the existing Keystone pipeline leaked 5,000 barrels of oil in South Dakota.

TransCanada Corp. won Nebraska's permission to build its long-delayed Keystone XL crude oil pipeline across the state.

The Nebraska Public Service Commission's ruling is on the Nebraska route TransCanada has proposed to complete the $8 billion, 1,179-mile pipeline to deliver oil from Alberta, Canada, to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

The pipeline may also be more commercially viable given declining heavy oil production in Mexico and ongoing instability in Venezuela, said Zachary Rogers, a refining and oil markets research analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said in a statement.

Dave Flute is the tribal chairman of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley welcomed the news, saying the 830,000-barrel-a-day pipeline will help the province's oil producers by providing a cheaper route to US markets, but that Canada still needs more pipeline routes to new markets. He also championed completion of the Energy Transfer Partners LP-led Dakota Access Pipeline, which runs from northwestern North Dakota to IL via South Dakota and Iowa.

The proposed KXL would add to the massive Keystone system, with its line starting in Hardisty, Alberta and ending in Steele City.

President Donald Trump revived the project in January and signed a memoranda expediting the environmental review process for the project. Trump said that doing so would boost construction jobs but critics noted that it would only create 35 permanent jobs.

The pipeline transports crude from Canada.

Should pipeline opponents appeal the Commission's decision it could eventually end up in the Nebraska Supreme Court. "This latest disaster is an urgent reminder that we must stop building infrastructure for risky fossil fuels and transition to clean energy as soon as possible". An investigation into the cause of the spill is underway.

People there say the company hasn't contacted them about a clean-up plan.

This isn't the Keystone's first spill. George W. Bush was president, and oil prices peaked at almost $150 a barrel that summer.

The commission will not be allowed to take into account an oil spill on the existing Keystone pipeline last week. "What is wrong - and what we will continue to fight - is that this pipeline is still on the table". "The only safe solution for oil and fossil fuels is to keep them in the ground". Officials at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources don't believe the leak affected any nearby water bodies or drinking water systems. The commission was forbidden by law from considering a recent oil spill on the existing Keystone pipeline in its decision. "It will be a few days until they can excavate and get in borings to see if there is groundwater contamination". He says TransCanada environmental contractors will collect water for sampling Monday if ice in the ditch melts.

Groups from other states that are facing their own pipeline battles have also decried the incident.

"All new pipelines from Alberta, including Kinder Morgan's expansion project to the B.C. coast, Enbridge's line 9 to the east, or the Keystone XL going south the US, mean more Alberta bitumen extraction, which represents one of the most polluting sources of fossil fuel production in the world", declared Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands).

"This decision opens up a whole new bag of issues that we can raise", said Ken Winston, an attorney representing environmental groups that have long opposed the project. She said that the pipeline was not in the state's public interest, that jobs would not go to Nebraskans, that it would create "significant burdens" on landowners whose use of the pipeline corridor would be limited, and that she was still anxious about the environmental impact.

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